About the city
Spain’s third biggest city definitely has it all:
- A vibrant old centre, with a knot of little streets and splendid medieval buildings like the UNESCO-listed Lonja de la Seda as well as the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences
- Excellent beaches such as Playa Malvarrosa, which lies a short tram ride from the centre
- Delicious local cuisine since Valencia is home to surely the most famous Spanish dish of all: Paella!
Valencia is the capital of the autonomous community of Valencia with around 800.000 inhabitants. The city is situated on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula, fronting the Gulf of Valencia on the Mediterranean Sea. It is approximately four hours to the south of Barcelona and three hours to the east of Madrid. It has many stunning sights including baroque buildings, a monumental cathedral as well as some of the most modern architecture in Europe.
Find out more about how to get to and around Valencia here.
Enjoy this video to get a first glimpse of Valencia:
Valencia was founded as a Roman colony by the consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus in 138 BC, and called Valentia Edetanorum. In 714 Moroccan and Arab Moors occupied the city, introducing their language, religion and customs. During their occupation, they implemented improved irrigation systems and the cultivation of new crops as well, being capital of the Taifa of Valencia. In 1238 the Christian king James I of Aragon conquered the city. He also created a new law for the city, the Furs of Valencia, which were extended to the rest of the Kingdom of Valencia. In the 18th century Philip V of Spain abolished the privileges as punishment to the kingdom of Valencia for aligning with the Habsburg side in the War of the Spanish Succession. Valencia was the capital of Spain when Joseph Bonaparte moved the Court there in the summer of 1812. It also served as capital between 1936 and 1937, during the Second Spanish Republic.
Sights and Attractions
Valencia has many amazing sights! Some of the most popular places include:
The City of Arts and Sciences
The work of Valencia’s own Santiago Calatrava, this is an example of architecture at its most futuristic. The colossal structure houses an IMAX cinema (situated in the Hemisfèric), as well as Europe’s largest aquarium – the Oceanogràfic, interactive educational exhibits in the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum and the avant-garde opera house – Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía. Furthermore, the impressive l’Assut de l’Or bridge and the Agora are all a delight for the senses.
Barrio del Carmen and its Palaces
This thousand-year-old city neighbourhood grew between two walls, the Muslim and the Christian. A walk through its labyrinthine cobbled streets flanked by imposing medieval buildings takes us to back to other times in history. Entering its palaces, going through the medieval gates of the Quart and Serrano Towers, enjoying the impressive frescos of the Church of San Nicolas and strolling around its most singular spots are itineraries not to be missed.
Plaza de la Virgen and the cathedral quarter
Twenty-one centuries of history right at the heart of the city, where you’ll find such historical treasures as Valencia Cathedral, the Micalet, the Basilica of the Virgin and the Almoina. Don’t miss the Tribunal de las Aguas (Water Court), a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage (noon on Thursdays).
Valencia’s Marina and beaches
The Valencia’s Marina is one of the city’s most important landmarks, not only due to the events that are held there, but also due to its unique buildings. It houses the 19th Century Harbour Sheds, the Edificio del Reloj and the Veles e Ventsbuilding, the emblem of the new Marina. There are also shops, terraces and restaurants with spectacular views, as well as a children’s park, the Superyachts Berthing with its amazing yachts, and the North and South Marinas, filled with numerous boats.
The Turia Gardens
A garden covering 9 km and situated on the old bed of the River Turia. This is a true green area, stretching from the west of the city to the east, reaching as far as the City of Arts and Sciences. Explore by bicycle or train. Also absolutely worthwhile is a pit stop at the Palau de la Música, pausing to enjoy the unique bridges which cross it from north to south.
Valencia is blessed with a typical Mediterranean climate. By September, the weather is beginning to take an autumnal turn. The temperatures have dropped slightly from those seen in July and August, but remain high, with plenty of sunny weather and clear skies. September’s average temperature is around 22°C.
Valencia’s official languages are Valencian/Catalan, and Spanish. In the capital of Valencia not many people speak Valencian and are not offended if addressed in Spanish. However, outside the capital, Valencian is often preferred. As in Barcelona, with Catalan, it helps to be sensitive to this language dynamic.
A word on the famous paella…
There are several versions of this tasteful rice dish: Paella Valenciana, with meat, Paella de Marisco, with fish or seafood, or even Paella Mixta, with meat and fish at the same time. If you want to eat an authentic Paella, try it at the Malvarrosa beach area. The authentic Valencian Paella is made only with fresh ingredients, in a special iron pan and using a fire made with wood (not gas or electricity). Vegetarian Paella is called “Paella vegetal” or “Paella de verduras”.